Thursday 28 July 2011

Horror Island (1941)

An unpretentious supporting feature, HORROR ISLAND doesn't have the atmospheric grandeur of the Val Lewton / RKO classics but it does have an endearingly goofy quality that's hard to dislike. 

Feckless boat captain Bill Martin and his gormless sidekick Stuff are on their uppers when they stumble upon one half of a treasure map; unfortunately the map points to a location on a supposedly haunted island. 

Fuzzy Knight (L) and Dick Foran (R)
Somehow, director George Waggner (who directed the original Lon Chaney Jr version of THE WOLF MAN) in 70 minutes manages to cram in several punch ups, a haunted castle, a one-legged sea dog, a caped villain, a wanted ganagster, a car crash, an exploding parcel, hidden passages, secret doors, sleepwalking, the Federal government and a wise-cracking romance.

The Phantom threatens the sleeping Peggy Moran
While it's not quite as much fun as that makes it sound, it's near enough.  Dick Foran as the hero is bland but Fuzzy Knight is good value as Stuff and the supporting cast have fun with small but memorable parts.  Of these the standout is probably Lewis Howard as louche playboy Thurman Coldwater. 

The Skiddoo arrives at Horror Island
I expect Waggner used sets from bigger budget productions because they look too good for a B picture; the quayside set in particular is great - big enough for a full size boat and water!

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